God bless American

Tuesday 9 Feb 10

I write this from the skies!! From an American Airlines flight. I normally studiously avoid AA, because I just don't like the smug/mean combo that emanates from their staff.  I know that is a sweeping generalistaion but it has affected me to the point where, if I have a choice, I would rather give my money (or whoever is paying for me's money) to another airline that is more predisposed to being nice.  Today, my prejudices were vindicated when at the check-in I encoutered a lady who was just plain mean.  Usually when people are mean to me I try to understand why, and I can imagine that working for a company that is on the brink of bankruptcy and when you have the threat of redundancy hanging over your head at all times, you must find it harder to feel good about coming to work. But then again, screw you. We are all in this recession, there are other airlines that are in parlous financial states, so why is it that American Airlines' employees are, in my quite extensive experience as a world traveler, more likely to be bitchy, unhelpful and downright rude? Is there some sort of retreat in the Catskill mountains where staff are sent for intensive weekends and indoctrinated with anti-social behaviour?

Of course there is a lady working on this flight who is totally confounding this whole theory, rather annoyingly.  She has used my name at least once in every sentence she has uttered to  me, if not more, Alan.  She is being so nice, I am starting to suspect she is a serial killer, Alan.

I always ask for vegan meals on planes, even though I am not a vegan. I'm a vegetarian and I have grown tired of the vegetarian options that most airlines offer: starchy pasta, drenched in horrid cheese. So my trick is to tell them I'm a vegan and so we bypass the cheese and tend to veer towards the cous cous or quinoa end of the market.  It just tends to be a much safer and less cholesterolly-challenging way to fly.  The American Airlines vegan meal, is, true to form, disastrous.  White rice with a few slices of sauteed squash and carrot on top. (Haha, I nearly said Carrot Top).  Even the smiley flight attendant was moritified, Alan. She very kindly asked if she could supplement my salad with things from the non-vegan trolley, Alan, so I had some sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes to make up for the dullness in front of me.  As a sidebar, what is this weird American (country, not airline) obsession with melon?  Everywhere you go there are slices of melon at the side of the plate.  I HATE melon.  I think it is like those awful flavoured waters but with bad texture.  I also read that it is really hard for your body to digest melon and so you should only eat it on its own, not in conjunction with other foods.  Yet melon is everywhere, it is pandemic. On film sets, if you ask for a fruit salad for breakfast, you get a plate of melon with a strawberry on top. I hate melon so much that I pretend to be allergic to melon so that I never encounter it.

Anyway, I digress. There is a really great piece by Frank Rich in the New York Times about 'Don't Ask, Dont Tell' this past Sunday.  There was also a big ad in the Arts section for the forthcoming musical Promises, Promises starring Kristen Chenowith and Sean Hayes, and I have to say that the retouching of Sean Hayes makes him look like the double of John Edwards, and if there was ever a time when you wanted to look less like the former vice-presidential candidate , it is now.

Talking of failed vice-presidential candidates, Sarah Palin continues her odyssey of ignorance, banality and irrationality this weekend by saying it is not ok for Rahmn Emmanuel to use the word 'retarded' once, in private, referring to oppponents of the Health reform bill, but it is ok for Rush Limbaugh to use the word. Why do we think that is?  Is it because Sarah is a mindless, unthinking bigot who will agree with anything anyone says if they are disagreeeing with anything vaguely left-wing, or indeed democratic? I think so.  The only good thing about Sarah Palin's continuing presence on the US poltical landscape is that eventually she might polarise the right so much that they might break in two and form a more right-wing party. I think the creation of a viable, third political party is the next inevitable step in America's faltering politcial journey.

Lots of you have been very intrigued by the watch I wore in my videoblog about yesterday's performance of An Oak Tree.  It is a Nautica watch with two clocks and a compass on it. And yes, once, when I got lost in the forest near my house in upstate New York, I used the compass to find my way home.

I saw Pee Wee Herman's show in LA on Saturday. It was astounding.  Equally amazing was watching him interact with kids at the meet and greet thing afterwards. I am often mistaken for Paul Reubens, especially when my hair is short and spiky. (He told me he is mistaken for me too!!) At one point before the show I was standing by the box office waiting for my friends to arrive and there were long lines of audience members waiting to go through security.  A lot of people were coming up to ask for a photograph with me, and I had an epiphany that this was probably the worst place on earth for me to be standing.

I have been reading about the winter Olympics athletes and I have to say they uniformly scare me. They all seem too obsessed and unhinged and always have some form of feud with people in their field.   Why can't we just all get along? And finally and happily, perhaps the lack of snow in Vancouver will be the nail in the coffin of the 'global warming is a myth' theory that Ms Palin and her ilk like to propogate.